Higher education institutions face mounting pressure. College enrollment has been on the decline for a decade—including a one-year drop of 4.1% from spring 2021 to spring 2022.
Increasingly, students are looking for other educational options, such as career pathways that go beyond traditional courses and on-campus learning. And with fewer traditional students enrolling out of high school, colleges are going to have to rethink their enrollment strategy and traditional business models.
“We already knew that demographic trends were going to affect higher ed enrollment and transform the makeup of the student body—and then the pandemic came,” says Joellen Shendy, product strategy director, Workday Student. “Now we’ve seen not only an acceleration of trends, but expectations have also changed. We’ve introduced things like hybrid learning and 24/7 access to services. The future is this new flexibility.”
This all requires higher education institutions to operate at peak efficiency to ensure student satisfaction, fiscal health, and the ability to adapt to future needs.
Now more than ever, higher education institutions need to be flexible and agile—not only to best manage their growth but also to give colleges and universities quick and accessible insights into their students, faculty, and operations.
What Is a Higher Education Student Information System?
Although educational institutions use a variety of software and technologies, higher education software typically refers to a higher education information system or student information system (SIS). These are programs that help educational institutions manage data and processes related to students’ educational journey: admission, enrollment, academic records, academic advising, curriculum management, financial aid, and more.
Here’s another way to think about it: Companies have a human resources (HR) system to manage a worker’s “employee lifecycle,” which encompasses processes such as hiring, onboarding, skills development, and more. Likewise, colleges and universities also need a system to manage the end-to-end educational journey for students—from recruiting and admission to graduation and beyond.
Why Do Higher Education Institutions Need a Student Information System?
Most of the software systems at educational institutions were installed before email, social media, and the internet were anywhere close to mainstream, so institutions have continually been updating higher education software platforms to integrate with the latest technologies. But these often-patchwork hybrid systems are especially under pressure given the changing digital needs of students—including nontraditional students—and new modes of education.